food & Wine


Barley, pea, mint and spinach risotto

Barley, pea, mint and spinach risotto

Fibre-rich barley lends a more toothsome bite to risotto than the traditional arborio rice, creating a hearty, comforting dish.

Serves: 4-6


  • 3 cups frozen baby peas
  • 100g baby spinach leaves (any hard stems removed)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint, plus extra whole leaves for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Extra olive oil and parmesan for garnish


  1. Place peas in a pot of cold water with a little salt. Bring to the boil, cook for a minute then drain and run under cold water.
  2. Place spinach in a pan with a little water and cook until wilted. Drain and remove as much water as possible.
  3. Place 2 cups of the cooked peas in a blender or food processor with the spinach, crushed garlic, mint leaves and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Process until well blended. 
  4. Place stock in a pot and heat to a low simmer. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a pot over medium to low heat, add onion and cook until transparent.
  5. Add barley and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add wine and cook until it evaporates. 
  6. Add the hot stock about ½ cup at a time, stirring occasionally and simmering until the stock is absorbed before adding more. Continue until the barley is soft but still has some bite, about 40 minutes. The mixture should be slightly liquid.
  7. Gently stir in puréed pea mixture, reserved whole peas, parmesan and lemon juice. Set aside for 5 minutes before serving, drizzled with a little olive oil and garnished with shaved parmesan. 

Written by Bernadette Hogg. Republished with permission of